Just when I thought I knew Strindberg, the great modernist author of Miss Julie and The Father, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective gives us a revelatory production of his rarely performed Creditors; Charlotte Northeast’s directorial debut is nothing short of dazzling. Of course, she does have a remarkable trio of fine actors to work with.
This riveting old-fashioned drama is built on Strindberg’s profound belief that the battle of the sexes is a war to the death. It begins with two men talking: Adolph (Dan Hodge) is ill and desperate: a painter who has lost faith in painting, he has been emasculated by his novelist wife, Tekla (Krista Apple), and his marriage is foundering, mired in suspicion and jealousy and distorted by power struggles. Gustav (Damon Bonetti), a mysterious smooth talker, manipulates the conversation, advising Adolph to assert himself and “husband your masculinity.”
The performances are breathtakingly nuanced, sculpted with subtlety and passion -- Hodge and Apple and Bonetti are absolutely embedded in their roles. And the venue is perfect; the upstairs reading room of the Franklin Inn Club suggests the past, a world of books and grandfather clocks and ascots and long skirts, where dangerous obsessions roil under a civilized surface.